Listen Up: Wednesday, September 1, 2004
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Johnny Case

Waiting for the Moment Waiting for the Moment (Sea Breeze Jazz)

By Ken Shimamoto

Last Wednesday, pianist Johnny Case celebrated the 21st anniversary of his long-running engagement at Sardines Ristorante Italiano, Fort Worth’s longest-running jazz gig. He also used the occasion to fete the release of this c.d., his 12th recording since 1969 and his first on the California-based Sea Breeze Jazz label.

Waiting for the Moment, an elegantly swinging trio date, captures Case doing what he does best — stretching out on a selection of jazz standards and original compositions in the company of a pair of highly sympathetic accompanists. Drummer Duane Durrett learned his craft alongside Case back in the ’60s, when the two novice jazzmen often found themselves performing with seasoned pros like pianist Red Garland and saxophonists David “Fathead” Newman and James Clay. He’s a thinker and a listener behind the traps, and he propels the music crisply, without showboating. Byron Gordon, a classically trained muso who’s spent the last few years joined at the hip with rocker Tim Locke, has been Case’s regular bassist since illness forced his revered predecessor, the late Charles Scott, to relinquish the gig. The communication and mutual regard among the three men is clearly audible on these 10 tunes.

There are ghosts all over this disc. Gordon’s entire performance is a tribute to Scott’s influence, from his solid, uncluttered accompaniment to his effective soloing. Clay, the Cowtown native who made his mark in the late-’50s Ray Charles band, receives props in Durrett’s modal original “Blue Clay,” with its stomping, bluesy ostinato. Case’s two compositions — “Lewis Worrell” and the title track — feature angular melodies reminiscent of the masterwork of Thelonious Monk, along with Case’s seemingly endless flow of melodic ideas. Tunes like Billy Eckstine’s “I Want to Talk About You” (forever associated with sax giant John Coltrane) and Johnny Mercer’s “I Remember You” showcase the pianist’s lyrical ballad style, which prompted one local muso to dub him “the Bill Evans of Fort Worth.” The pair of Horace Silver numbers included here capture the flavor of the late-night jams where Case and Durrett served their apprenticeship.

This music is a scintillating conversation amid a world of blaring soundbites. Listen.



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